My love affair with color started about five years ago. I had a boring desk job sitting at a computer all day surrounded by drab office colors. Why government offices are often so dreary is beyond me. I was 60 years old. A great time to begin to see.
What I needed was a new colorful hobby. I realized that my activities were too limiting for me now. Pets, water yoga (my own personal version of water aerobics), and work in an uninspired and uninspiring environment wasn’t enough. I wanted something else to focus on besides coming home from work exhausted and vegging out in front of sitcom reruns. Weekends were also for rest and recovery but I felt like I needed to add some version of “recreation” to this limited mix.
So I enrolled in an art class in Apex, North Carolina, taught by a former school art teacher who had given up her day job and opened a studio. She offered classes for $25 an hour, working with acrylics. As soon as I picked up the paintbrush; I realized that I loved everything about painting with acrylics. Acrylics are my “medium” of choice. Fast cleanup, easy to correct mistakes, just everything was appealing to me about the process
And of course there are all those fabulous bright colors. Just shopping for paints and supplies and picking out colors at Jerry’s was a new adventure though a little overwhelming right at first. I mean a lot of people do study art in college four years and get master’s degrees in fine arts for a reason. There’s a lot to learn. But I was well on my way with a half dozen classes under my belt.
And as I stumbled along it was like a light went on in my life.
I began looking at everything a little closer, seeing the yellows and limes dancing in the dark green grass in my front yard and the shades of lavenders, purples and pinks in the evening sky. Also architectural details of windows and doors, and the shapes of petals of flowers and leaves for examples began to come into sharper focus as I went through my day looking at the world around me.
To my surprise people responded to my paintings right from the beginning, which was a wonderful feeling. I’d been a writer for many years and knew I did a good job reporting feature stories. The feedback was good but this was somehow more rewarding because I was putting more of myself into my work rather than just parroting what other creative people were telling me to write.
It seemed that others were craving colors as much as I was. People actually asked me not to take too many classes because they preferred a refreshing approach. I often heard that formal education can suppress originality and painting “from the heart.”
I began to realize that everyone is an artist... Everyone has a heart and as long as the expression is true and honest, there’s simply no wrong way to do it. It’s just an expression of who we are. Part of my mission with my new hobby js to remind people that we are all artists, a truth that is often buried under learned layers of self consciousness acquired during our growing up process.
I had barely finished my first painting when a woman came into the shop where I was taking classes and asked if I took master card, leaving me almost speechless with just enough of a voice left to say as calmly as possible, “a check will be fine.”
My first “collector” bought not just one of my first paintings but asked if I had done anything else. I sent her to the café next door where our teacher had hung a show displaying her students’ work and I had one in that show. When the customer came back she said, “Ill take that one, too.” I tried not to let her see my jaw drop. I wish I knew that woman’s name now to thank her for her encouragement because it gave me the confidence I needed for my new hobby to quickly became a hobby/business.
I began adding color everywhere to my life.
My house was white with sky blue shutters and doors with my awakened eye for color I thought, why not paint it colors that are beautiful to me, the kind of colors that you find in sun splashed countries like the Caribbean or Mexico.
From there on there was no stopping me. Indoors became a cheerful medley of sunrise gold, Indian paintbrush, and Renoir red. Next came the Margarita bathroom and the Iroquois sunset bathroom where I hung orange and magenta towels. It was almost as though I were being led down a primrose path of a more colorful life in general.
I got “in the spirit” of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, one of the most colorful towns on earth, when one of my friends visited there. She suggested I paint their patron Saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe. I thought it was a strange idea, but I did it because she was having an art show and she invited me to display my work. This patron Saint of the Americas is a very colorful Saint. For awhile she became my muse. It was almost like she was leading me on to try every bright color combination I could imagine just to paint her. You just never know when you start a painting what the end result will be, which is part of the fun.
When I finally got to go San Miguel last year, I drank in all the fabulous colors like a person dying of thirst in the desert of America’s suburbs.
What a shot of life it gave me. Enchanted, I returned home determined to keep myself drenched in my straight from the tube acrylics as an antidote.
When I need a color fix, all I have to do is squirt some paint straight from the tube and I feel like I’m back in San Miguel without even having to leave my colorful suburban casita.
In my imagination, heaven is a brightly colored place. If I want to reEnchant the little corner of earth in my care, I can’t think of a better place to start than with a bucket of paint in some outrageous color.
Written by Lynn Wogan